Iran filmmakers condemn arrest of fellow directors

Iran filmmakers condemn arrest of fellow directors

Iran filmmakers condemn arrest of fellow directors

A group of Iranian actors and film directors have published an open letter condemning the questioning and arrest of several film-makers in recent days as well as raids on their homes.

The letter, published on the Instagram account of prize-winning Iranian director Mohammad Rasoulof, also condemned the current climate for making films in Iran.

It has emerged as protests continue in Iran over price hikes for basic goods including bread that have left at least one dead but it was not immediately clear if there was a connection.

The letter said that Iranian security agencies had “raided the homes and offices of several film-makers, confiscated their personal and business belongings, and “begun interrogations and arrests.”

Over the last years, interference by security services in Iranian cinema, as well as censorship, has “reduced the job security of film-makers to the lowest possible level”, it said, saying this was a “violation of freedom of expression.”

The statement did not identify the filmmakers arrested but posts on social media said the documentary film-makers Firoozeh Khosravani and Mina Keshavarz were among those detained. Both women were said to be in Tehran’s Evin prison

There was no immediate comment from Iranian officials.

IranWire, a news website based outside Iran, said it had also received information about “a new wave of arrests of documentary film-makers and cinematographers” and that Khosravani and Keshavarz had both been arrested on May 9 at their homes on the basis of arrest warrants issued by a court.

Rasoulof won the Golden Bear top prize at the 2020 Berlin film festival with his film “There is no Evil” - a lacerating study of the use of the death penalty - but was unable to accept the prize in person as he was barred from leaving Iran.

He has been sentenced to one year in prison but has yet to go to jail.

Also among the signatories was another prize-winning film-maker, Jafar Panahi, who is barred from the country and making films but has continued to make movies acclaimed abroad in defiance of the authorities.